A brave new world — Family Court
By Nathaniel Groarke
As Sam Cooke sang, ‘a change is gonna come’. For family lawyers, change is upon us. The single Family Court is now live as of 22 April. So what will the changes mean?
The change that is going to be most apparent to solicitors and those going through family proceedings will be the increasing insistence upon other forms of dispute resolution being considered, as opposed to relying upon the court to resolve issues. Before being able to start proceedings in relation to children, the applicants will have to confirm whether or not they have attempted mediation. This will be within the application form itself. In a similar vein, most family applications will require the parties to confirm whether or not they have attended a mediation information assessment meeting (MIAM). Essentially, this meeting is intended to find out whether alternative methods could be used to solve the problems that are in issue, as opposed to going through the congested court system.
In addition to this, the intention behind the rules is to streamline the application process and to make it more efficient. All family work will now come under the umbrella of the Family Court. England and Wales will be divided up into geographical areas that will be led by a designated family judge. The intention is that there will be more thought given to the allocation of new cases taking into account issues such as judicial continuity, avoidance of delay, location of the parties and any child(ren) and the complexity of the matter…
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